Cal Ziegler began playing baseball at the park in Heidelberg with his father when he was 4 years old. Now he’s 18 and on the radar of the New York Mets organization.
Ziegler was selected in the second round, 46th overall, in the latest Major League Baseball draft, which took place July 11-13. If Ziegler makes the majors for the Mets, then he becomes the first Canadian drafted and developed into the league by the organization. So far, only eight Canadians have played for the Mets in their history; of those, just three have played for them in the last 40 years.
“Every baseball player dreams of being picked one day and being able to pursue a Major League Baseball career, so it’s definitely really exciting. And I’m just looking forward to getting down there and getting started, seeing where I stack up at the beginning of things – going from local baseball and then high school baseball, and now to professional – you see kind of what that jump is going to be like,” said Ziegler, as he enjoyed being home in Heidelberg with family before flying back out to the U.S. in a couple weeks.
“That’s what every game this year, last year and the years before have led up to.”
Between the pandemic and being Canadian, it’s not always been easy for Ziegler to be noticed by American scouts. Wanting to make his dreams happen, Ziegler and his family moved to Florida, which is where the scouts took notice of his pitching skills.
The 6-foot, 205-pounder’s fastest pitch has been clocked at 99 miles an hour. His fastball usually runs into the upper 90s and he was consistent about keeping it in the 90s after they moved to Florida, showcasing his abilities outside of this area.
A posting on the team’s website shows the confidence the Mets had in picking the Heidelberg native.
“Getting Ziegler, to me, was just a tremendous group pick in how we evaluated him,” scouting director Marc Tramuta said. “I don’t know how much the scouting industry was able to scout him thoroughly, just because of the situation with him being from Canada – going down to the academy [in Florida], I thought we were really prepared to make that pick.”
Along his development path, Ziegler played for the Kitchener Panthers, Tri- City Giants, London-based Great Lake Canadians and the Ohio Warhawks. Ziegler has been a notable pitcher to watch, which is why he was called on to play for Canada’s national junior team in 2019.
Ziegler is looking forward to getting back to the states, meeting the other prospects, and seeing where his professional baseball career takes him.
“I want to be a Major League Baseball player. That’s the reason I’m going to sign the contract in hopes to become a Major League Baseball player in the future. I don’t know if it’s going to be in a year, two years or three years, but hopefully it ends up happening,” he said.
“Being able to get out there and compete and help your team win games is really what brings excitement to the game.”
Although Ziegler was committed to Auburn University and playing for their team, the Auburn Tigers, his dreams of being a MLB player are starting to come true, which means he isn’t planning on attending anymore.
Ziegler is planning on joining the rookie-league affiliate of the Mets after he officially signs his contract.
“For me, it’s just about a little bit more consistency now, and just being able to really dial in my pitches every single pitch. It’s more just about being able to throw up more consistently in the zone.”
Ziegler said he is proud to have grown up in the small town of Heidelberg and is happy to share his successes, hoping to make the village a recognized name.
“I appreciate all the support they’ve all given me. It’s pretty exciting news for not only them but my family and friends too. Hopefully, I can put Heidelberg on the map.”